Hayduke Votes! Register Now! Party on!

One man alone can be pretty dumb sometimes, but for real bona fide stupidity, there ain’t nothin’ can beat teamwork. — Edward Abbey

I confess I may have too much time on my hands as a geezer/retiree. These days, instead of plowing through unemployment cases as I did in my last 12 years with the state appeals board, I’ve gone back to enjoying some of my favorite desert rat ecologists. 

In addition to Abbey, I’ve also been enjoying Wallace Stegner’s nonfiction and science writer David Quammen. Stegner’s Beyond the Hundredth Meridian really explains the 19th-century roots of the Malheur takeover insanity. Anyway, idle hands (and minds) being the devil’s workshop, I’ve had plenty of time to develop a strategery to help adjust Oregon’s diabolical political primary scene.

Have you ever fantasized about going over to the other side — the dark political side — to create chaos? Come on, admit it. If you’re a student or a geezer, you’re either concerned about your finances or your planet … or both. Now, I’m not suggesting we chain ourselves to a tree, take over UO President Michael Schill’s office or occupy a Wells Fargo branch. There are other collective means, subtle but effective, to sabotage the political system. 

But even Edward Abbey would admit you have to pay attention to the rules if you want to be a member of a monkey-wrench conspiracy. Let’s all change parties! Just think of the fun we’ll have! Seriously: 20,000 Oregonians have already switched parties this year, three times as many as in 2008.

Let’s say you’re a Democrat like me, god forbid. As an old labor goon, I’m not excited about Hillary Clinton. She and Bill always had a problem with unions and trade policy going back 20 years. If she’s our candidate, Republicans will make the perceived loss of American jobs a central issue. If I remain a Democrat, I’ll probably vote for Bernie Sanders just to send Hillary the message that her Walmart/Wall Street ties and Bernie’s message on income inequality both resonate with me.

That said, wouldn’t it just be a friggin’ hoot to become a Republican temporarily? Think of the benefits if you register as a Republican: You get to vote for any one of three evil men — Trump, Cruz or Kasich — and ensure a Democrat victory in November. If by the luck of fortune you are elected as a Republican delegate — be still my beating heart! — you get to go to Cleveland, Ohio for the national convention — woohoo … and you must be armed! (OK, I’m not certain it’s mandatory.) Sign me up!

You gotta love Oregon voting rules. We’re the only state in the nation to host three party primaries! In addition to the Democratic and Republican parties, the Independent Party of Oregon (IPO) gained major-party status last year. Each party decides whether it will hold an open or closed primary. Since the Republicans and Democrats have chosen to hold “closed” primaries, this means that a voter must be registered with that party by April 26 to participate in its primary election.

Although the IPO will not have a candidate in the presidential primary, it has chosen to hold an “open” primary. This means any IPO members or members of other minor parties or non-affiliated voters can request IPO ballots and will be able to write in a candidate and vote in any other contested primaries that may be on the IPO ballot. Although the IPO does not have a presidential candidate, it does have a contested gubernatorial race.

So have some fun this election cycle. And remember, party affiliation is like a drunken temporary tattoo: It’s not permanently disfiguring. If you feel icky being a Republican or a Democrat — which you should, by the way — it’s simple to change back into the Libertarian Pacific Green Non-affiliated Party member you once were in time for the November general election. You can register to vote or change your party registration at oregonvotes.gov.

The bottom line is that, with Republican and Democratic delegate votes still up for grabs for this summer’s national conventions, Oregon’s primary results will be more meaningful than they have been for a long time. The usual logic is that races in both parties will have been long decided by our May 17 primary. Not so much this year.

“Be as I am — a reluctant enthusiast … a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic … I promise you this; you will outlive the bastards.” Thank you, Mr. Abbey.

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